3 January 2008

Kenya: Tutu Joins Church Efforts to Resolve Polls Crisis

Cape Town — Nobel peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu has flown to Kenya to "assist" in resolving the conflict sparked by President Mwai Kibaki's controversial re-election on Sunday, his home-town newspaper reports.

Tutu told allAfrica on Tuesday that Bishop Mvume Dandala, a former leader of South Africa's Methodist Church and now general secretary of the Nairobi-based All Africa Conference of Churches, was assembling a church team to travel to Nairobi.

The Cape Times newspaper reported on Thursday that Dandala confirmed Tutu would arrive in Nairobi during the day. The paper quoted him as saying Tutu "could assist us to find a peaceful soution. It is not so much mediating as encouraging people to talk".

Dandala also expressed confidence that Tutu could play an important part in finding an amicable solution to Kenya's crisis. Dandala is himself widely-respected as a mediator for brokering peace between rival political groups in migrant workers' hostels around Johannesburg  during the violence of South Africa's transition to democracy.

Tutu is expected to meet with Kibaki's ruling Party of National Unity and opposition leader Raila Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement, as well as senior church leaders.

The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) has called for Tutu to oversee a re-count of the disputed presidential election results, reports Kenyan newspaper the East African Standard.

"Kenya now sits on a knife edge," the KHRC is reported as saying.

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